Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Five Tips For Giving Excellent Hostess Gifts.

I touched on giving hostess gifts in a recent post, basically saying to be prepared so you have them on hand before you are walking out the door to the function. Giving hostess gifts is an art and a science and a necessity. People who open their homes to you are giving on several levels. They are bringing you into the most intimate part of their lives. They are providing some combination of food, drink and entertainment. They are giving time to clean out the cobwebs and make their space inviting to you.

On the other side you have a few obligations, too. You must r.s.v.p. and do what you say you are going to do. R.S.V.P.'ing is a weakness of mine and every time I've let an invitation go by I feel like crap so I am very conscious these days of responding properly. You must mingle and not tie yourself to the people you came with. You must fully engage in the festivities. And you must bring a hostess gift.

During the holidays even the most shy introvert will have some engagements so here are a few pointers to make the holiday hostess giving painless and make you look brilliant:

  1. It doesn't have to be expensive. Packaging is half the battle in this game. A gift from the Big Lots will be well received if it's nice and looks like you bought it at a boutique. You know the bows and packaging you never use because it's too nice? Now's the time to use it.

  2. Alcohol is always good. Unless you're visiting teetotallers. Wine is not always a great idea because people tend to try to fit it into their dinner scheme, thereby disrupting their carefully thought out pairings. A special wine, though, like an ice wine, a dessert wine, or a port are good, and champagne is always a winner. Just say something like, "Here's something for the two of you to enjoy later when you've recovered from all of this effort," letting them know they don't have to serve it that evening. Here in Kentucky we are awash in bourbon and a small batch or special blending is always welcome. Cocktail related items are another excellent choice.

  3. Go local. Are there special ornaments tied to local events or areas? Museum gift shops, craft guilds and art galleries are full of yearly ornaments celebrating all sorts of things. We have fabulous fudge from a Trappist monastery close to us that makes a lovely gift. Give a little money to your local businesses and make your gifts more personal at the same time.

  4. Now is not the time to involve charities or your pet causes. Noone wants a pair of rabbits donated from heifer international as a hostess gift, no matter how worthy the cause. They also don't want your PETA Calendar full of coupons. They don't want to be changed or helped in any way or have to engage heavily during what should the simple matter of greeting you at the door.

  5. Do not bring anything that must be handled. That means no flowers that have to be put in vases. Nothing that must be shown around. Nothing that involves them doing anything more than turning around and sitting it on the table behind them. If it's wrapped, don't push them to open it, either. They can do that later when they've finished cleaning up. Then, they'll open it, be amazed at your good taste and immediately put you at the top of their guest list for next year. If you don't want to be invited back, please give accordingly.


      Amy said...

      Oooh I love your blog! So glad I found it. I agree on the hostess gifts - definitely a must but it's all in the presentation. For my friends who cook I like to get a little jar of cookie sprinkles and some cookie cutters around this time of year. For the ones who don't, I think liquor is a big win. Hehe. Looking forward to reading more!


      Frugal Maven said...

      Thanks Amy! I'm getting ready to go visit your blog!

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